I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.







Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baking Soda kills Moss


My moss solution...
 In addition to its many other uses I often read about baking soda being used in combination with water and/or vinegar as a more environmentally friendly way to clean your home.  A couple of years ago I came across a tip in a newsletter that suggested using baking soda to combat moss.  I read the newsletter around the time we moved into our new home, which had moss on the roof of the garage that the house inspector recommended we remove.  A thoughtful relative gave us some leftover chemicals from when they had their roof done and the white powder sat inside the bags for awhile as I tried to decide whether to give the random tip a try.

I finally bought one large box of baking soda about a year and a half ago and got out on the roof of the garage.  The two sentence tip really did not elaborate on how you used it: Must the surface be dry?, Should you dilute it with water? So I figured I would start with the one box and see what happened.  A dry roof just seemed better from a safety perspective so I went out there on a dry day and just sprinkled the baking soda directly from the box.  It certainly was not instant death, but the fact that it was no longer green was victory enough for me. 

Since that initial experiment I have sprinkled baking soda on the remainder of my garage roof and, while I figure that I should probably go out there at some point and remove the black, dead bits, I am very happy with the result.  I have had the moss regrow in only a couple of small spots, which I was quick to treat with the baking soda, and the rest just looks slimy during the rainy season and dried out in the summer.  Emboldened by my rooftop success I decided I would try it on the lawn.  The areas I tried out last year browned up quickly and have not regrown so I treated the rest of my backyard early this year.  I have several mossy spots in the front yard as well, but as they do not receive much sunlight I have left them for the time being.  I figure moss on the lawn is better than mud. 

Before I published this post I went looking for a couple of other perspectives and found one article that suggested, since moss can be partly caused by excess shade, you trim your tree branches - not a happening thing at my house.  I will take the tree branches over the lawn any day.  I also found a comment on the UBC Botanical Garden Blog that cautioned against using the baking soda undiluted and near grass.  I have not had a problem at all with the baking soda damaging my lawn.  The only thing brown is the moss.  I have noticed that if it does not rain the baking soda takes longer to do its job.  A couple of times I have applied the baking soda just before a light rain and it does seem that the moss browns up faster once it gets wet.

In the interest of maintaining the work done by the baking soda I saw a suggestion that you rake the dead moss out and follow up with over seeding.  A bit of compost would also likely help with the overall health of the lawn.  I also thought that before I put up a post claiming that baking soda was an environmentally friendly way to kill moss that I should check and see if I could find anything about the subject.  In that regard I found a blog posting from Green Living Tips that briefly describes the process of how baking soda is made.  You can check it out and decide for yourself.  Given the other options I saw of bleach, laundry detergent and zinc sulphate I am sticking with the baking soda.

30 comments:

  1. Very interesting! I had no idea. Might just have to give that a try. Thanks.

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  2. It makes sense to me, as moss likes acidic soils and baking soda is a neutralizer

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    1. Cool. I'm not very knowledgeable about the chemistry of healthy lawns. If your lawn is acidic I suppose there are some environmentally friendly ways of being proactive about your Ph levels. Feel free to post ideas in that regard.

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  3. Yeah people add lime to their lawns to neutralize them and prevent moss here in New England, home of acid soil (acid from all the pine needles). Since I did not have lime to spread on my mulch beds, I used baking soda sprinkled on the moss there. I searched the internet AFTER I did it and found this site to confirm my 'idea'. I hope it works!

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  4. I have used it several times to remove moss from my driveway and roof and it works great to kill the moss. I have yet to try it on my moss filled lawn but after reading this I think I will try. One caution with putting it on the roof. When I applied it with a spreader there was a little breeze and little got onto my deck. I thought nothing of it and did not rinse it off. After a couple of weeks I discovered that where the soda got on my deck that the finish(stain) has diss appeared and I had to re-stain the next spring. So beware of getting it on painted or stained surfaces.

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  5. Really? This would be best if it's really work. Will surely try this thans much.

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  6. I tried it on blacktop a few years and it worked well but after a couple years it came back, so do it again, it's nearly harmless.

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  7. I will have to try it on my driveway. There is some moss growing out of the cracks in my driveway. I will just pour some on it and see if it gets rid of it. http://www.victoriawindowcleaning.ca/

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  8. roof in Alaska I put on roofs sloped and flat to kill moss it killed it if you have tree branchs hunging over or touching roofing they need to cut back an up off roof

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  9. Been using Baking Soda to kill moss in my lawn for many years. I have tried both ways: Mixing with water and dry sprinkle directly to the mossy area. Both work well without damaging the grass. The area I treat is damp and in the shade. Once every couple of years keeps it under control.

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  10. I boil water and add baking soda until it no longer dries. Then I put it in a 1.5 gallon sprayer with a few drops of detergent and spray my concrete deck, composite shingled roof and asphalt driveway. Have also used it on garage doors (splash area), wood decks and siding. Only takes a couple of days to die off and then a gentle pressure sprayer action is about the most I need to do. Seattle area.

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    1. correction - no longer dissolves

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  11. My father in-law put it on his roof and it worked great. It kills the moss first then sweep off the remains and for the perfect result, a light pressure wash. If you just pressure wash, it will not kill the roots of the moss. Cash and Carry in Bremerton carries backing soda for $3.07 for a 4Lb box. This is way cheaper than the stuff at the hardware stores.

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  12. Does anyone know if the high alkalinity adversely effects the life of asphalt roof or driveway? Also, sodium cabonate (swimming pool) vs sodium crystals (laundry booster). I know the pool variety is so strong it reacts with our acidic well water.

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    1. Hiya David. We've been using baking soda on our roof for decades and haven't had any problems. We also use it on our asphalt driveway and brick walkways. We used to use Tide and bleach but were told by a contractor those could damage the roof material worse than the moss - it breaks it down. Hope that helps! We live in WA State - evergreen...with moss.

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    2. hi david. Please note that this article is talking about Baking Soda - sodium BIcarbonate. Your comment is about Sodium Carbonate, what you are calling soda for swimming pools and the same as washing soda. Sodium carbonate is much more alkaline than sodium bicarbonate.

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  13. This a great article. If you have really steep roofs (like I do), try this application method. Buy a bottle of Moss Off in the spray bottle with hose attachment. Safely dispose of the contents at your local hazardous waste recycle center (hopefully your area has one like ours). Rinse it out well then fill it with the water/baking soda mixtures you all have been recommending. Hook it up to your hose and spray on. It will help you reach those areas of your roof that you can't reach any other way.

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  14. Great info.
    Troy Hillard
    wash rite
    www.washrite.co.nz

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  15. I'm not clear on how much baking soda and liquid detergent to mix with water to put in a sprayer. Our asphalt driveway is 400 feet long so I need to mix up quite a bit. Can someone help with proportions please?

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  16. We use 1 heaping tablespoon of baking soda per gallon of water for our lawn. Since your job is for the driveway, I'd at least double the baking soda. We just use a small sieve and dust ours once a year and we're good - we live in the NW.

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  18. Fred in Seattle areaJuly 7, 2017 at 1:44 PM

    Thank you for your sharing your experience and information on using baking soda for moss control. I used it on our asphalt driveway last year(early fall) and it was very successful in turning the moss black. The drive had moss almost all over with some built up patches on the edges.

    To finish completely removing the dead moss, it needed a brushing with a very stiff broom or wire brush. I don't like to use pressure washing if it can be avoided because of the loss of base material along with the removal. I did some test areas, but didn't ever find time to complete. I'm going to look close now to see if the moss has weather away or still need to be brushed. Of course, I'm hoping for the former.

    I also used baking soda on our composition shingle roof(asphalt) last early winter. I'm understanding that it works best in warmer conditions, but the roof was getting slippery when wet, when it needed cleaning, so I decided I couldn't wait for warmer weather. Even though it was early winter, it keep the roof clear of new moss through the winter.

    I've tried different methods to apply to roofs and here is the one I like best. One factor in my decision of this method, is that if there is any breeze at the time, and you try to spread at waist high by hand or sifter, a lot of the soda doesn't make on the roof because it get taken away with the wind:

    -Purchase the baking soda in the 13.5 lb. bags, cut across the top of the bag leaving a "handle" of a few inches at one corner.

    -Apply when roof is dry and water in after spreading soda.

    -Using a gloved hand, scooping in the bag, crushing any "lumps", and applying vertically up or down the roof in rows about 2 feet apart. Each handful covers about 3-4 feet. This could vary depending on hand size, of course.

    -After applying the soda rows 6-8 ft. vertically across the width of the roof, I eaven out by brushing sideways with a soft broom, starting with soda row and brushing each way.

    -As mentioned, then "water in" with a hose and nozzle set on mist or fine spray.

    There was a very slight reduction on foot traction after adding the water, but my experience it was not near at all slippery.

    I hope this helps others. Interesting, as there doesn't seem to be much info on the web on using baking soda for moss.

    I may try applying the soda dissolved in water in the future. If it works, it may be helpful to control the application rate. I'm probably using more than is needed and will try to experiment with amounts in the future.

    Thanks again.

    'Hope this helps

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  19. I was told by a home inspector that one should never use anything other than a leaf blower on the roof. He said a wire brush, broom or power washer would hurt the surface of the roof. He said to just sprinkle the baking soda on and leave it on in powdered form. One could gentle rinse the moss off with a hose once it is no longer alive. Every professional I have tried to hire wants to use a wire brush or broom to remove the moss. One wanted to use the wire brush before applying the baking soda so he wouldn't have to return to rinse off the moss later. Any feedback? Thank you.

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    1. I think the 'professional' who wanted to use a wire brush first would have obviated the need for any further work anyway, why put baking soda down after the moss has gone?

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  20. Simply fill the bottle with water and add a few drops of both Lavender and Citronella oil, and spray yourself and your clothing before going on a bushwalk.
    best handheld gas blower

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    1. So what your saying? the lavender and citronella smell kills off moss as well?

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